|Address||659 Huntington Ave, San Bruno|
|Region||Bay Area, California, USA|
|Website||www.artichokejoes.com (very out of date)|
Located only a block from the Caltrain San Bruno stop, and about as far from the BART San Bruno stop. Only a couple of miles from SFO (San Francisco airport).
Limit hold 'em: "Three-chip" games: 3/6, 6/12, 15/30. Blinds are one chip and three chips for the lower games (e.g. 1 and 3 for 3/6 and 6/12) and a 2 and 3 structure for 15/30.
Omaha/8: 4/8 with a half kill. Only spread on Wednesday and Friday.
No-limit hold 'em: 1-2-2 blinds, $5 to go, with an optional kill (see below). Usually one table, occasionally two. In September of 2008, this was changed to a jackpot game; the drop is now $4 + $1, but it seems the house takes a charge even from no-flop pots.
Rake is $3 + $1 jackpot for non-hi-lo games. No flop, no drop. There is no longer a "button fee" or extra blind; the jackpot rake is taken out of the blinds prior to the deal; the other rake is taken after the flop (if there's no flop, there's no $3 rake, but the jackpot dollar is still taken).
Game Character: Typically loose-passive "no-fold-'em". Occasionally a couple of gamblers will result in a loose-aggressive "no-fold-'em" game, but five-plus to a flop, regardless of the number of bets, is the rule. Pre-flop capping occurs frequently, and players often stay in capped pots with very poor hands.
Even at the higher limits (6/12 and 15/30), play here is very loose, and can be aggressive. Of other Bay Area card rooms, AJ's attracts more "gamblers" than other rooms. Chopping before the flop here in the higher limits is much more rare here than anywhere else in the Bay Area at 6/12, but 15/30 is considerably tighter than the 20/40 games in San Jose.
Dealers are usually good here but they do occasionally converse with players in languages other than English. The English only rule is very poorly enforced here, especially with Cantonese at 15/30. However, they do not discuss hands (or even poker) in other languages, and generally make an effort to speak English when asked to. The dealers are still a little confused by the no-limit game and particularly the kill rule.
In the no-limit game, look out for the unusual "kill" rule, somewhat common in Northern California rooms, but unheard of elsewhere. Any player may post a $5 blind bet in the 1-2-2 game. In return, the game is now $10 to go (instead of 5) and the killer acts last before the flop. New players must either wait for the big blind or kill; making up the blinds is also done with a kill.
Posting: New players do not need to post in 3/6 or 6/12. New players in 15/30 must post or wait for the big blind. New players in no limit must kill or wait for the big blind.
Shuffling: All tables are machine shuffled.
Wait Time: Busier in evenings and weekends, typical waits are anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The best way to get into a game quickly is to come when a shift change brings new dealers in; this happens most afternoons around 4pm. You can also call-in for 15/30.
It is uncommon for all 18 poker tables to be in use. AJ's has lost a little business since no-limit has re-appeared at Lucky Chances. However, the room can still get very busy. One or two tables of 15/30, one or two tables of no-limit, and the rest filled with 6/12 or 3/6 seems common as of late (early 2008).
A wandering floorman keeps tables full by walking around the tables constantly with a walkie-talkie connecting him to the brush's podium. When he spots an open seat he calls it in immediately and it's filled in mere moments, assuming there's a list.
- Monday 11:00am, Limit hold 'em. $20+$8, 1x$20 rb, 1x$20 ao. $1000 guarantee.
- Tuesday 11:00am, Limit hold 'em. $20+$5, no rebuys, single-table sit-n-go tournaments. Top finisher wins $200; no other places are paid.
- Wednesday 6:45pm, Half limit hold 'em/Half Omaha/8. $40+$10, $20 rebuys, 1x$40 ao.
- Thursday 11:00am, Limit hold 'em. $40+$8, no rebuys.
- Sunday 6:45pm, No-limit hold 'em. $40+$9, $20 rebuys, 1x$40 ao.
Top finishers (final table at tournaments other than Tuesdays) get points that win entry into a semi-annual freeroll NLHE tournament.
Jackpots and Promotions
A Bad Beat Jackpot is offered. The rules for this change every year or two, so it's worth checking on the current rule. Currently (3/2014) It seems the jackpot is capped at $100,000, and there is a "reserve" behind it to ensure it stays full. Qualifying hand is four eights, both cards must play.
$2 is dropped every hand ($1 preflop, $1 on the flop, or similar).
These jackpots are split 50% loser-25% winner-25% table.
Royal flushes get paid a bonus of $500.
There are high hand bonuses in off hours, weeknights starting at midnight. Making any four-of-a-kind pays $100 during these hours, straight flushes $200.
There is also an Aces Cracked promotion on for a couple hours per day.
Artichoke Joe's is a very nice building and very nicely appointed inside. It is apparently attempting to evoke the richness of the gold rush era, with relatively lush carpeting, lofty ceilings, nice bathrooms, lots of brass and glass. Very few televisions on the walls, so if you like to watch sports while you play, this is probably not the place for you. Pleasant surroundings are the rule. Most of the poker tables are comfortable, but the ones in back, used mainly for tournaments, have that unfortunate "astroturf felt" feel.
Some of the regulars tend to be somewhat seedy, but not much more so than other card rooms. A lot of taxi and limo drivers from the nearby airport play here.
Neighborhood: Smack in the middle of downtown San Bruno, in a reasonable area of town, next to the train tracks. Many local restaurants nearby.
Parking: Around a hundred spaces. Can fill up during busy times, in which case you need to park on the city streets or in the commuter-train parking lot.
Tables and Chairs: Standard 9-player tables with nice felt and padding (except the back six tables with astroturf felt). Standard fixed-leg chairs with a decent amount of padding and comfy backs, but heavy wear and stains are apparent on many chairs.
Service and Comps
There are a lot of servers that come by frequently—but never when you really want one. The food is only of mediocre quality, but it's relatively inexpensive, though, and the special "players menu" for seated players is downright cheap. Entres come complete with bread, soup, salad, and sides. No "to go" orders from the players menu allowed. The cheese burger, $3, served with chips, is a great buy and is known in the area as one of the better burgers in San Bruno.
Soft drinks are free, other beverages are reasonably priced.
- Official Artichoke Joe's Website (notably out of date; tournament schedule is wrong)
- Closest competitor is Lucky Chances in Colma, followed by the Oaks in Emeryville.
|Poker rooms in the Bay Area (Map)|
|Artichoke Joe's | Bay 101 | California Grand | Garden City | Lucky Chances | Oaks | Palace Hayward | Casino San Pablo | Garlic City|